The Latest: Canada will accept fully vaccinated Americans

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A face mask lies on the ground at Piccadilly Circus in central London, Monday, July 19, 2021. As of Monday, face masks are no longer legally required in England, and with social distancing rules shelved, there are no limits on the number of people attending theater performances or big events. (AP Photo/Alberto Pezzali)

TORONTO — Canada announced Monday it will begin letting fully vaccinated U.S. citizens into Canada on Aug. 9, and those from the rest of the world on Sept. 7.

Canadian officials said the 14-day quarantine requirement will be waived as of Aug. 9 for eligible travelers who are currently residing in the United States and have received a full course of a COVID-19 vaccine approved for use in Canada.

Public Safety Minister Bill Blair said a date for the U.S. to allow fully vaccinated Canadians to cross the land border isn’t yet known. Any Canadian can currently fly to the U.S.

MORE ON THE PANDEMIC:

— Olympic athletetests positive in Tokyo days before 1st game

— Scientists, many Britons, apprehensive as‘Freedom Day’arrives in England

— French Holocaust survivor denounces anti-vaccination protesters comparing themselves to Jews during Nazi era

—Bangladesh lifts lockdownto celebrate Eid al-Adha, exasperating experts

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— Find more AP coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemicand https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-vaccine

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HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:

THE HAGUE, Netherlands — The Dutch government says it is donating 745,000 doses of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine to countries in need that have appealed to the Netherlands for help.

The government announced Monday that Tanzania and Namibia will be among countries to receive shots. The Dutch government will arrange transport of the vaccines.

Most people getting vaccinated in the Netherlands get either the shot made by Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna.

The government still has stocks of AstraZeneca in cold storage and is using very little of the vaccine. Earlier Tuesday, the health ministry announced that people who have had one shot of the AstraZeneca vaccine can choose to have a second shot of Pfizer/BioNTech instead.

The government says that other vaccines the country has bought but not yet had delivered and which are not needed for the Dutch vaccination campaign will be sent directly from manufacturers to COVAX — the COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access Facility.

Authorities in the Netherlands expect to have donated 20 million doses to COVAX by the end of the year.

In the Netherlands about half of the adult population has been fully vaccinated and 82% of adults have had at least one shot.

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MADRID — Spanish officials are celebrating that half of Spain’s residents, or roughly 24 million people, have been fully vaccinated already, although they say that a steep increase in contagion is sending worrying numbers of patients into hospitals.

The occupation rate in Spanish hospitals climbed on Monday to 5.4% of all beds tending COVID-19 patients and 11.4% of the intensive care unit beds. Although there is still plenty of room, admissions have increased 65% in regular beds and 45% in ICUs only in one week, said María José Sierra, an official with the Health Ministry’s emergency coordination center during a weekly briefing.

“It’s true that the speed of contagion is slowing down, but we are in a very delicate moment,” the official said. “The virus continues to circulate in a widespread manner.”

Sierra said that hospitalizations would likely continue increasing but that officials expected that they would remain proportionally much lower than in previous contagion waves due to the high vaccination levels.

Spain is trying to deliver more shots to younger groups, which have been driving the recent outbreaks. The latest health ministry’s data showed that 50.7% of Spain’s 47 million residents were fully vaccinated by Monday and an additional 5 million are waiting for their second dose of the coronavirus jab.

Spain has recorded 23 new deaths since Friday to a total death toll of 81,119 since the beginning of the pandemic.

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NEW YORK— New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said Monday he does not plan to reinstate a citywide mask mandate even as COVID-19 cases increase, opting instead to focus on vaccinating more residents.

There have been calls for New York City to follow the lead of Los Angeles County, which announced last week that it will require masks be worn indoors amid a sharp increase in virus cases.

But de Blasio insisted vaccinations are a better strategy for the nation’s most populous city.

“Masks have value, unquestionably, but masks are not going at the root of the problem. Vaccination is,” the mayor said during an livestreamed press briefing. “So we do not intend a mask mandate. We do intend to double down on vaccination.”

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LONDON — Anti-lockdown protesters scuffled with police and hurled bottles and outside Parliament in London on Monday, the day all remaining social restrictions were lifted in England.

Hundreds of demonstrators espousing a range of anti-mask, anti-vaccine and conspiracist views gathered in Parliament Square, chanting “freedom,” and moved into the road, blocking traffic.

A police officer put a lock on one of Parliament’s gates as protesters chanted “shame on police” and “arrest Boris Johnson.”

The Metropolitan Police force said officers had been “met with hostility” and 11 people had been arrested.

As of Monday, there are no mandatory mask-wearing or social-distancing rules in England, though the government is still advising people to wear face coverings in crowded indoor spaces

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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — With the delta variant causing a surge of new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in southwestern Missouri, health officials have taken to going door-to-door in an effort to encourage vaccinations.

The Kansas City Star recently followed along as health officials knocked on doors in Springfield, handing out brochures. The effort was non-confrontational and the officials always took “no” for an answer, the newspaper reported, despite concerns raised by Gov. Mike Parson and other Republican leaders that the outreach would be heavy-handed.

Southwestern Missouri has seen an alarming rise in illnesses caused by COVID-19 in recent weeks. There was a tinge of good news Monday: The number of people hospitalized dipped slightly both in southwestern Missouri and across the state, according to Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services data.

After several days of more than 1,000 newly confirmed cases, the state reported 826 on Monday, bringing the total for the pandemic to 545,551. No new deaths were reported, keeping the total at 9,474.

Southwestern Missouri lags well behind the national average for vaccinations.

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ST PETERSBURG, Fla. — U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan said Monday he has tested positive for the COVID-19 virus even though he was fully vaccinated against the disease.

The Republican congressman’s announcement came as Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said a “seasonal pattern” affecting mainly Sun Belt states is largely to blame for a recent spike in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in Florida.

DeSantis, a Republican who opposes virus-related mandates, nonetheless said it’s important for people to get vaccinated.

Buchanan, who represents a Sarasota-based district, said in a news release he got the test recently after experiencing “very mild flu-like symptoms.” The congressman said he is quarantining at home.

“I look forward to returning to work as soon as possible,” said Buchanan, 70, who has served in Congress since 2007. “In the meantime, this should serve as a reminder that although the vaccines provide a very high-degree of protection, we must remain vigilant in the fight against COVID-19.”

The congressman’s announcement comes amid a sharp rise in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in Florida and around the country. One statistic released by the White House estimated that 20% of new cases last week occurred in Florida.

DeSantis told reporters after appearing at an unrelated environmental event Monday that the increase was expected in Florida in mid-summer. DeSantis has insisted the state will impose no more virus-related lockdowns or mandates.

DeSantis added that he thinks it’s counterproductive to berate or ridicule people who have concerns about the vaccine or simply do not want it.

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PORTLAND, Maine — More than half of Maine’s teenagers and 12-year-olds have had at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine.

Maine has been ahead of most of the country in vaccinating residents for COVID-19. The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention said Monday that about 51% of the state’s 12- to 19-year-old residents have had at least one dose, and about 47% have had a final dose.

The rollout of vaccines to adolescents has been much slower nationwide. Only about 14% of the U.S. population that is under 18 has had a first dose of coronavirus vaccine, according to data from the Mayo Clinic.

In Maine, the percentage of the total population that is under 20 and has had at least one dose is about 22%, Maine CDC reported. That includes people too young to receive a vaccine.

More than two-thirds of Maine’s population that is old enough to receive a coronavirus vaccine has received a second dose. That is one of the highest percentages in the country.

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THE HAGUE, Netherlands — Caretaker Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte is urging people to work from home again amid a recent spike in coronavirus infections in the Netherlands.

Dutch infection rates shot up shortly after the government relaxed almost all lockdown measures last month, including allowing nightclubs to reopen.

Rutte subsequently apologized, called the easing an “error of judgment” and ordered nightclubs and discotheques to close again until mid-August.

The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in Netherlands soared over the past two weeks from just under 5 to nearly 59 new cases per 100,000 people on July 18.

Health Minister Hugo de Jonge says the daily number of new infections appears to be stabilizing, “but is, of course, too high.”

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TIRANA, Albania — Albania’s small tourist businesses are holding a 24-hour strike, closing restaurants and bars to protest against the government’s continued imposition of an overnight curfew.

Scores of restaurant and bar owners in Vlora, 150 kilometers (90 miles) southwest of the capital, Tirana, closed their premises Monday asking for a later curfew or none at all. A similar protest took place in northwestern Lezha.

The government previously set an overnight curfew from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. That will change to start at 11 p.m. from Tuesday, but many owners want a later time or no curfew at all. They say it takes their clients away too early during the summer tourist period.

Prime Minister Edi Rama turned down their request saying their loud music in urban areas is environmental pollution.

After significant losses last year due to the pandemic, Albanian businesses are trying this year to fully exploit its pristine beaches on its 480-kilometer (300-mile) coastline along the Adriatic and Ionian Seas. During the past few years tourism has turned into a key industry for one of Europe’s poorest countries.

Albania has registered some 130,000 coronavirus cases and 2,456 deaths so far but no deaths have been reported in the past month or so. During the same period the highest number of the daily new cases was 21 on Sunday.

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SKOPJE, North Macedonia — North Macedonia began vaccinating children age 12 and over against the coronavirus on Monday in a bid to prevent a possible spike of COVID-19 in the fall, when the country plans to fully open schools.

Health authorities said that only about 1,800 teenagers had booked appointments through an electronic health system for their first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, which authorities consider to be the safest for children.

Authorities said the small number of young people registering to get vaccinated reflected parental concerns about potential side effects.

North Macedonia’s health minister, Venko Filipce, reiterated that mass immunization is the only way to end the pandemic and encouraged parents to have their children vaccinated.

So far North Macedonia has vaccinated about a quarter of its 2 million people.

The European country has reported dozens of new confirmed virus cases in the past week, mainly involving the more contagious delta variant.

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LONDON — Businesses in England warned Monday that a “pingdemic” of people receiving notifications on their phones telling them to self-isolate threatens to lead to widespread staff shortages and mayhem across the economy just as lockdown restrictions are lifted.

Though nightclubs and other entertainment venues cheered the lifting of all remaining restrictions on social contact, they are increasingly grappling with staff shortages as the National Health Service’s test and trace app informs people they came into close proximity with someone who tested positive for the coronavirus.

Supermarket chain Iceland and pub owner Greene King had to close certain locations due to the self-isolation requirements affecting their staffs.

There are also warnings of shortages of goods in supermarkets, cuts in production at factories and potential transport chaos, as illustrated by Saturday’s closure of the Metropolitan Line on the London Underground, due to key staff being pinged.

Mike Lynch, general secretary of The Rail, Maritime and Transport union warned that England’s so-called “Freedom Day” could “very easily collapse into chaos day.”

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TEHRAN — Iran on Monday imposed a week-long lockdown on the capital, Tehran, and the surrounding region as the country struggles with another surge in the coronavirus pandemic, state media reported.

The lockdown — the nation’s fifth so far — will begin on Tuesday and last until next Monday. All bazars, market places and public offices will close, as well as movie theaters, gyms and restaurants in both Tehran province and the neighboring province of Alborz.

Iran reported 25,441 new cases on Monday and 213 deaths over the past day, bringing the overall death toll to 87,374 from among more than 3.5 million confirmed cases in the pandemic.

During an earlier surge in cases, in April, Iran reported the highest daily number of cases, 25,582. At the time, its daily death tolls surged to around 400, below the grim record of 486 reached last November.

Iranian authorities have lately been warning about a new surge, fueled by the fast-spreading delta variant. In sanctions-hit Iran, which has the highest COVID-19 death toll in the Middle East, less than 2% of the population of 84 million has received both doses, mainly of the imported Russian and Chinese vaccines.

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CANBERRA, Australia — Far-right British commentator Katie Hopkins was deported from Australia on Monday after she boasted on social media that she planned to breach the country’s quarantine rules.

Hopkins traveled to Australia to appear in a reality television program and was in a 14-day mandatory hotel quarantine in Sydney before filming was to start.

Her flight to Australia last week created outrage after the government halved the number of Australian citizens and permanent residents allowed to return home each week to 3,000 to try to reduce the risk of COVID-19 leaking from hotel quarantine. More than 34,000 Australians who want to come home remain stranded overseas.

Australia’s two largest cities, Sydney and Melbourne, are under lockdown to contain a coronavirus outbreak caused by the more contagious delta variant.

Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews said Hopkins would be deported after boasting on Instagram her intention to flout quarantine rules.

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ISTANBUL – Turkey is warning its citizens to get second or third doses of COVID-19 vaccines to guard against rising cases involving the delta variant of the coronavirus.

“A rapid increase has begun in the countries around us. Particularly in countries such as Russia and Iran, the delta variant is currently dominant,” Dr Nurettin Yiyit, a member of the government’s coronavirus advisory committee, told the private Demiroren news agency. “Obviously there is a valid danger for our country as well.”

According to Health Ministry data, 63% of adults in Turkey have received a first vaccine dose, while 33% have had two shots.

Thousands of Turks headed for vacations on the coast this week for the Eid al-Adha religious festival, raising fears of an oppotunity for infections to spread.

The health minister on Sunday announced 7,680 new confirmed cases over the previous 24-hour period, up from 5,261 daily cases a week earlier.

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DHAKA, Bangladesh — Millions of Bangladeshis are shopping and traveling this week during an eight-day pause in the country’s coronavirus lockdown that the government is allowing for the Islamic festival Eid al-Adha.

Health experts have criticized the suspension, which comes as Bangladesh is still battling a surge of infections fueled by the highly contagious delta variant.

With the spread of the virus rampant, most everything in Bangladesh was ordered shut on July 1, from markets to mass transportation. Soldiers and border guards patrolled the streets and thousands were arrested and sent to jail for violating the lockdown.

Now, crowds of people are jamming into malls and markets to do their holiday shopping and thronging ports and bus stations as they make their way to their rural hometowns.

“Already there is a scarcity of beds, ICUs, while our health care providers are exhausted,” Be-Nazir Ahmed, a public health expert and former chief of the government’s Health Directorate, said. “So if the situation worsens and more patients come to hospitals, it will be near impossible to deal with the crisis.”

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WASHINGTON — Two more Texas lawmakers who left their state to hobble efforts to pass new voting restrictions have tested positive for the coronavirus, raising to five the number of infected people in the delegation.

State Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer of San Antonio said in a statement Sunday that he had tested positive. “I am quarantining until I test negative, and I am grateful to be only experiencing extremely mild symptoms,” he said.

A person familiar with the delegation said the number of infected members had risen to five. The person was not authorized to discuss the matter and requested anonymity.

More than 50 Texas lawmakers traveled to Washington on Monday aboard a private charter flight. A caucus official has said all had been vaccinated. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says “breakthrough” infections — vaccinated people becoming infected — are rare.

After a photo showed them maskless on the plane, Republicans and others criticized the lawmakers for traveling without masks. But federal pandemic guidelines don’t require masks to be worn on private aircraft.

The Democrats fled the state to deny the Republican-controlled Legislature the necessary quorum to pass the voting laws.

– By Douglass K. Daniel.

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SEOUL, South Korea — The number of infected sailors on a South Korean destroyer on an anti-piracy mission off East Africa has soared to 247, the largest cluster for the country’s military during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Defense Ministry said Monday two military aircraft have been sent to bring back all 301 sailors aboard the destroyer Munmu the Great.

Authorities suspect the outbreak may have started when the destroyer docked in the region to load goods in late June. None of the crew has been vaccinated against the coronavirus.

Health officials have said the crew are all in relatively good condition.

On Monday, South Korea reported 1,252 new coronavirus cases. It was the 13th straight day for South Korea to register more than 1,000 new cases.

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LONDON — British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will spend 10 days self-isolating after contact with a confirmed coronavirus case.

The announcement by his office on Sunday reverses an earlier statement that unlike most people, he would not face quarantine. Johnson met Friday with Health Secretary Sajid Javid, who later tested positive for COVID-19. Contacts of positive cases usually have to self-isolate for 10 days.

Johnson’s office initially said the prime minister would instead take a daily coronavirus test as part of a pilot project. And the same would apply to Treasury chief Rishi Sunak who also was contacted. But Johnson’s office said later after an outcry that both men would self-isolate and “will not be taking part in the testing pilot.”

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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